Sunday, March 24, 2013

Virginia Goes Private

This past week Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed a bill that would make information about concealed handgun permit holders in Virginia private. The new law forbids clerks of court from disclosing the name and other information concerning concealed handgun permit holders except to law enforcement.

Earlier legislation had forbidden the release of this information by the Virginia State Police. However, most concealed handgun permit information resides with the commonwealth Circuit Courts. That law was in response to the publishing of the names of concealed handgun permit holders by the Roanoke Times back in 2007.

SB 1335 was introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg). The bill was given two thumbs up by the Virginia Citizens Defense League.
Obenshain's original bill was more narrowly focused. It would have shielded from disclosure personal information about permit holders who were under the protective orders generally granted to people threatened with domestic violence.

The bill easily cleared the Senate. It was then overhauled by a House of Delegates subcommittee, which broadened it to include all concealed-handgun permit holders. Obenshain expressed support for that change, which upset advocates for gun control and open government.
One of the things that spurred this legislation was the publication of the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in New York by the Journal News.

It is my hope that North Carolina legislators will now follow suit in this session of the General Assembly. The bills there appear to have good support and with Republican control of both houses are likely to pass.

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